Profile: Chanel Mademoiselle Privé collection

The new collection of highly decorated gem-set watches from Chanel projects both deep reverence for the craft of watchmaking and the values of the Parisian luxury firm

A beautiful watch is always more than the sum of its parts; that these parts are themselves beautiful is of course a requirement. Indeed watches must by necessity have the sort of beauty that goes beyond skin deep, so to speak. Such traditional values find common ground with the values of the House of Chanel. The Mademoiselle Privé collection embodies the meeting point of these values, with as much for Chanel enthusiasts to coo about as fine watchmaking enthusiasts.

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"Mademoiselle Privé" watch, Coromandel dial in Grand Feu enamel. 18k white gold case, 594 snow-set dimonds (2.4 carats). Black alligator strap. Self-winding mechanical movement, 42-hour power reserve

We have all heard many times of the ingenuity and fastidiousness of the watchmakers who design, build, assemble and finish the mechanical movement. Their work is sometimes visible via the exhibition casebacks that so many wristwatches sport today. Watchmakers though are not the only artisans needed to create beautiful watches.

Take the Chanel Mademoiselle Privé collection timepieces featured here. These are clearly objects that are perhaps on a different level to a simple mechanical watch. No doubt this impression is reinforced by the presence of precious gemstones but also by the artisanal skill required to create the exquisite objects. Take note of the Grand Feu enamel dials of two models in particular, the Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel and Mademoiselle Privé Plume watches.

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"Mademoiselle Privé" watch, Plume enchantée dial sculpted on black Grand Feu enamel, 18k white gold dial, 63 grain and invisible-set diamonds and 26 pink sapphires, and pink lacquer. 18k white gold case, 316 snow-set diamonds (2.1 carats) and 216 pink sapphires (1.6 carat). Black alligator strap. Self-winding mechanical movement, 42-hour power reserve


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Anita Porchet created this dial for the Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel watch, of which there are 10 versions, each showing a different scene from the screens owned by Gabrielle Chanel 

A living legend in the watchmaking arts, Anita Porchet worked on the delicate enamel decoration in the Coromandel watch. This adds genuine watchmaking dial art to the entire Mademoiselle Privé collection. Of course, the collection is also full of references and symbols important to Gabrielle Chanel herself. For example, the Coromandel watch features scenes from lacquer screens owned by the great lady, reportedly antiques from Ming Dynasty China. Likewise, the Plume watch pays tribute to a symbol or trope that has been worked into many a Chanel creation.

As noted earlier, the watches of the Mademoiselle Privé collection feature an array of watchmaking skills – enameling, stone-setting, carving and engraving. Carving and engraving feature prominently in the Mademoiselle Privé Camélia Nacré watch, particularly in the mother-of-pearl marquetery (resembling a camellia) that dominates the onyx dial. Lovers of the House of Chanel will know that the camellia is also a symbol beloved of Coco Chanel.

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"Mademoiselle Privé" watch, Comète dial in titanium, 31 brilliant-cut diamonds. 18k white gold case, 60 brilliant-cut diamonds (1 carat). Black satin strap. Self-winding mechanical movement, 42-hour power reserve

Another symbol associated with the First Lady of Fashion is the star, thanks to this declaration: "I wanted to cover women with constellations! With stars! Stars of all sizes!" The Mademoiselle Privé Comète watch certainly plays up this sentiment, with the single large diamond-set titanium star at 5 o'clock acting as a small seconds indicator, making a full turn every 60 seconds. Of course, this is a decorative touch that hints at the presence of the automatic movement under the dial.

We close our brief look into the Mademoiselle Privé collection with the Lion watch, which is a representation of the constellation Leo. Here translucent Grand Feu enamel covers an 18k white gold dial engraved with the symbol for Leo. Why this constellation and not something else? Well it happens to be Coco Chanel’s star sign you see…

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"Mademoiselle Privé" watch, Constellation du lion dial, engraving under blue translucent Grand Feu enamel, 18k white gold dial, 30 grain and invisible-set diamonds (1 carat). 18k white gold case, 513 snow-set diamonds (3.2 carats) and 7 baguette-cut diamonds. Black alligator strap. Self-winding mechanical movement, 42-hour power reserve



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